2011 World Poker Tour Legends of Poker Day 5: “The Thrill” of Victory



The World Poker Tour Legends of Poker is all over and Will “The Thrill” Failla emerged victorious early Wednesday morning with the largest and most prominent win of his career. By besting the 757-strong field for victory, Failla claimed a first-place prize of $758,085.

When the final table began, Failla led the way with 6.77 million in chips. Although he lost some chips early to Joshua Pollock and Jeff Vertes, he fought back to send Owais Ahmed out the door in sixth place.

Ahmed, who began the final table as the short stack, moved all-in from the small blind after action folded to him on the 18th hand of the final table. The blinds were 60,000/120,000 with a 20,000 ante and Ahmed was all-in for 1.76 million. Failla was in the big blind and called with {A-Clubs}{5-Diamonds}, according to the WPT Live Update Team. Ahmed held {J-Spades}{7-Spades} and the board ran out {A-Spades}{K-Hearts}{7-Hearts}{A-Diamonds}{K-Clubs} to give Failla the win.

On the 61st hand, Adam Aronson headed to the rail in stunning fashion that first saw him suck out with {6-Spades}{6-Clubs} against Jeff Vertes’ {A-Hearts}{A-Diamonds}, only to have Vertes come back with a runner-runner flush. The money went in preflop and the board ran out {8-Hearts}{6-Hearts}{3-Spades}{7-Hearts}{9-Hearts}.

Pollock, in fourth place, was eliminated by former World Series of Poker gold bracelet winner Ken Aldridge on the 76th hand of the day. Pollock raised to 425,000 with the blinds at 100,000/200,000 with a 25,000 ante. He was on the button and Aldridge defended with a call from the big blind. The flop came down {A-Diamonds}{K-Clubs}{4-Diamonds} and Aldridge check-raised Pollock’s 500,000-chip continuation bet to 1.2 million. Pollock eventually would move all-in and Aldridge called. Pollock was all-in with {J-Diamonds}{7-Diamonds} for a flush draw and Aldridge held top pair with {A-Spades}{7-Hearts}. The {7-Clubs} turn and {10-Hearts} river failed to deliver the help Pollock needed and he was sent packing.

When play was three-handed, Failla began finding doubles every time he got his money in. First, he doubled through Aldridge with {6-Clubs}{6-Spades} to Aldridge’s {10-Hearts}{9-Clubs} to get back to about five million. After that, he doubled through Vertes back to over six million even despite having his {A-Diamonds}{5-Diamonds} dominated by {A-Spades}{9-Diamonds}. Momentum stayed on Failla’s side for the next couple of hours as he proceeded to chip up wherever he could. Eventually, Failla was able to dispose of Vertes in third place and get heads up with Aldridge.

On Vertes’ final hand, the 164th hand of the final table, Failla raised from the button to 900,000 with the blinds at 200,000/400,000 with a 50,000 ante. Vertes three-bet to 1.75 million from the big blind, but Failla came right back with a four-bet shove. Vertes quickly called holding {A-Hearts}{Q-Diamonds} and had Failla, who was holding {A-Diamonds}{J-Clubs}, dominated. A thrilling flop of {A-Clubs}{J-Diamonds}{10-Clubs} gave Failla the lead and left Vertes pleading for a king to come on fourth or fifth street. The turn brought the {9-Hearts} and the river the {A-Spades}, which finished off Vertes in third place.

When heads-up play began, Failla held the lead with 13.075 million in chips to Aldridge’s 10.65 million. It didn’t take long for Aldridge to take that lead from Failla in a big pot worth nearly ten million in chips.

Failla min-raised the button to 800,000 and Aldridge called from the big blind to see the flop come down {A-Clubs}{A-Spades}{6-Spades}. After Aldridge checked, Failla bet a cool one million. Aldridge then made it 2.5 million and Failla called. The turn was the {4-Diamonds} and Aldridge checked again. Failla bet 1.5 million this time and after a little bit of thought, Aldridge check-raised all-in. Failla gave it up and Aldridge won the pot. Now, if you were watching the live feed of this event, you know that Failla held {4-Spades}{2-Spades} while Aldridge held {7-}{6-} offsuit on this hand.

A few hands later, Failla doubled up after backing into a flush and getting Aldridge to shove on him on the river with only a pair of aces. Aldridge raised the button to 900,000 and Failla called from the big blind to see the flop come down {J-Clubs}{5-Diamonds}{2-Hearts}. Failla then check-called a bet of 500,000 from Aldridge before seeing the {9-Hearts} land on the turn. Faila opted to check again and Aldridge fired two million. Failla called and a third heart fell on the river with the {7-Hearts}. Failla led for four million and Aldridge quickly moved all-in. Failla snap-called and tabled the {8-Hearts}{6-Hearts}. Aldridge held a second-best {A-Spades}{A-Diamonds} and was forced to send over the chips.

After the hand, Aldridge was left with 3.775 million to Failla’s commanding 19.95 million and things only lasted a couple of more hands.

After folding a couple of times preflop, Aldridge called all-in with {6-Spades}{4-Hearts} after Failla jammed the button with the {J-Hearts}{6-Clubs}. The board ran out {K-Clubs}{K-Hearts}{7-Hearts}{Q-Diamonds}{9-Spades} and Failla’s jack-high was the winning hand. Aldridge was eliminated in second place on the 178th hand of the final table and earned over $365,000 for his finish.

Final Table Results

Place Player Prize
1 Will "The Thrill" Failla $758,085
2 Ken Aldridge $365,800
3 Jeff Vertes $186,400
4 Joshua Pollock $128,500
5 Adam Aronson $102,800
6 Owais Ahmed $77,100

Prior to this win, the largest score of Failla’s career was a $241,950 side-event win at the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure earlier this year. Failla more than tripled that score and bumped his lifetime tournament earnings to over $2.9 million. With this win, Failla has eclipsed $1 million in earnings already this year and is having his best year to date in poker.

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